Want to stop spending so much of your hard earned money on utility bills? Check out these clever gadgets that will keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket — not your utility providers' — year after year. Each of these projects can be completed in 15 minutes or less and requires no advanced skills or special equipment.
HOT WATER-SAVING SHOWERHEAD. If you multi-task while waiting for your shower to warm up — making the bed or pot of coffee — the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bills. The Ladybug Showerhead adapter saves the hot water. At about $20, Ladybug is so smart, it senses the moment the water is warm and stops the flow to a tiny trickle. When you're ready, just flip a switch to restart the normal flow. This adapter saves $75 in hot water cost plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.
SOCKET SEALERS. You can cut 10 percent from your energy costs by properly sealing and insulating areas around the home to make it as airtight as possible. Start with all of the light switches and electrical outlets. Install foam inserts (about 10 cents each) to stop warmed or cooled air from being sucked out of the house through the air gaps around every switch and outlet. Simply remove the cover plate, pop in a gasket and replace the plate.
WATER HEATER BLANKET. Just like insulating your walls or roof, insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and save you money each month. Check to see if your tank has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If not, consider insulating your water tank up to 9 percent in water heating costs. You can find pre-cut water heater blankets for around $20. If you don't know your water heater tank's R-value, touch it. A tank that is warm to the touch is heating the water but also the area in which it is located and needs additional insulation.
SMART POWER STRIPS. Turn off all the lights and then walk through your home, and you'll probably see eyes peering through the darkness. All of those glowing LEDs, clocks and power switches are sneaky electronic vampires. This phantom power drain costs you money and wastes electricity. Smart power strips, starting at about $25, work to reduce your power usage by automatically shutting down power to products that go into standby mode (no more crawling under desks and furniture to manually switch a power strip to "off." Smart power strips will save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5 to 10 percent of your household energy consumption.
For more details about each of these money saving gadgets visit EverydayCheapskate.com/15minutes.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at [email protected], or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.